Written & Directed by
National Operatic & Dramatic Association
Region 5 - Gordon Harris
Act 1 welcomed me and a full house of young and young at heart audience members to The Centre, Birchington for Sleeping Beauty; all eager to meet the cast of young talented performers of all ages and be dazzled by the lights, costumes, set design and join in with the pantomime fun.
As the story of Beauty was told, we were not disappointed. There were plenty of opportunities to be dazzled, to laugh, shout out loud, boo, sing, dance and join in with the obligatory ‘it’s behind you!’ and ‘Oh no it isn’t!’. This production of Sleeping Beauty had everything you expected and more including the wicked Maleficent, three good fairies, and of course a Muddles and Dame Dolly.
Congratulations to the cast, crew and everyone involved behind the scenes to create this piece of pantomime magic. As you entertained the audience, you cleverly embraced and transported us to a fairly tale land. A world far removed from our everyday lives, at the moment. It felt so good to finally be back in Pantoland. In fact there were so many super performances to mention both from young and older cast members! Your enthusiasm shone through, a few dropped lines but who cares it’s Panto and that’s part of the fun. Thanks for keeping this peculiarly British form of theatrical entertainment alive and keep up your community Panto.
Directed by Beckie Clark who also brought us superb costumes, with impressive chorography by Lauren Friday, this show ticked all the boxes for me... well done!!!
In these uncertain times and with no pantomimes able to be put on last year, Act 1 Theatre Group were very brave to take on the commitment and hard work involved in putting on this show, and I for one am very grateful they did, and judging by the applause from the audience, I was not alone. Right from the start of this panto, one knew that we were going to be in for a treat.
This version of Sleeping Beauty was extremely well written with Maleficent, the bad fairy, who set out to destroy Princess Beauty. Lauren Friday who played Maleficent opened the show magnificently and from the very first moment the audience could see that this pantomime was going to be different from anything that they had previously seen. The story unfolded clearly at Princess Beauty's christening, with Maleficent casting a spell on the baby Princess that she would prick her finger on a spinning wheel before her 18th birthday and die. Luckily, the good Fairies were present and cast another spell, Beauty would fall asleep instead, only to be woken by true loves kiss. The bumbling King, well played by Simon Greenstreet, immediately called for all spinning wheels in the kingdom to be destroyed. The interaction between the King and Dame Dolly, played exceptionally well by David Wright, was very entertaining throughout. The show played out the growing years of Princess Beauty, with good performances made by Chantelle Beeching, Emily Wright and Amber Cook. The three good fairies were played extremely well throughout the show by Bernii Gibson, Felicity Blackwell and Kacie Zannetti, always interacting well with Maleficent and her followers Squidge and Squelch, excellently characterised by Daniel Sheppard and James Smith. Charlie Steff played the very dashing Prince Charming - excellently cast. Muddles, played by Ben Clark, was a larger than life character who consistently amused the audience throughout the show and had everyone laughing in their seats.
Maleficent managed to trick Princess Beauty into pricking her finger on a spinning wheel that she had kept hidden and everyone was relieved when Prince Charming, of course, saved our Princess. The marriage scene was of pure delight and a very good ending to what had been a very well performed and enjoyable show.
A special mention should be given to the dancers, who had all clearly worked hard to execute so many dance routines throughout the show. Also to Beckie Clark, who not only directed but made all the costumes, they were stunning and definitely added to the overall quality of the show.
The whole cast, crew and director should be congratulated on delivering a thoroughly entertaining show. Act 1 have delivered yet another professional performance and I for one am looking forward to their next production. Oh yes I am!
Act 1 Theatre Group’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ was above all my expectations of local 'am dram'. I was blown away by the costumes, the set, the professionalism, and the authentic panto atmosphere. I was lucky enough to be in the sold-out audience on the Saturday matinee, where everyone onstage shone. I felt a sense of it really coming together as everyone shared 'it's going well’ grins.
I must commend Ben Clark as Muddles, who really was the glue of the show. I also loved Maleficent, played by Lauren Friday, who’s wit and ‘off the cuff’ remarks were hilarious but also incredibly skilful. The way she worked well with comedy duo, Squidge and Squelch, played hilariously by Daniel Sheppard and James Smith was also a joy to watch. David Wright’s Dame Dolly was also superb - brilliant casting.
I must also commend all the singers who were amazing. Too many to recall but all very good, especially the three Beauty’s who sang a lovely trio. Amber Cook and Charlie Steff as Princess Beauty and her Prince also gave some beautiful vocal performances.
Choreographer, Lauren Friday worked her dancers well. Collectively they were very good - I didn't notice a missed step. Well done to all ensemble children too, it was obvious that you were really enjoying yourselves on stage, it was a pleasure to watch.
I’ve seen many pantos and this production was as good as any professional one you’d catch at the Marlowe Theatre or Theatre Royal. Well done to all involved - big clap and pat on the back!
My only critique would be the length of the show. My granddaughter flagged a little, perhaps it could have been a little shorter? But I appreciate that everyone needs a part to play.
Well done Act 1!